Overlooked are playlists and write-ups that focus on artists that didn’t get the attention their music deserved during their time. This band is not available on streaming services other than YouTube, so that’s your only choice for the playlist, click on the icon and enjoy as you read up on Scars.
I was a late adoptee into punk and the more aggressive forms of modern rock that came before the new wave and post-punk music I first got into as a young teenager in the early ‘80s. Part of that was timing but it was also because my brother was never a big fan of that music, and as the primary influence and source of new music when I was young I my direction was led elsewhere. One exception was the band Scars from Glasgow, Scotland.
Approach with Caution
Side One (song \ artist)
Leave Me in Autumn \ Scars
Fear of the Dark \ Scars
Aquarama \ Scars
David \ Scars
Obsessions \ Scars
Stand and Deliver \ Adam & The Ants
Kick in the Eye \ Bauhaus
Dark Entries \ Bauhaus
Rosegarden Funeral of Sores \ Bauhaus
Release the Bats \ The Birthday Party
Waving My Arms \ The Birthday Party
Cat Man \ The Birthday Party
California Uber Alles \ Dead Kennedys
4 Hours \ Clock DVA
Walk on By \ The Stranglers
Nero \ Theatre of Hate
Requiem \ Killing Joke
Haunted \ Section 25
Baby Don’t Jump \ Punishment of Luxury
And Yet Again \ Positive Noise
White Rabbit \ The Damned
Number II \ Dead of Alive
The Puppet \ Echo & the Bunnymen
She’s Not There \ UK Subs
My brother had a tape titled Approach with Caution that had been made for him by a high school friend, Stephen Scott. Stephen was a DJ in various Toronto alternative clubs over the years including The Voodoo Lounge and The Dance Cave and would go on to produce videos for many Canadian acts before eventually building a career in film and television. He was a source of several of the more obscure artists I grew up with and many were a direct result of listening to the Approach with Caution cassette tape. My brother passed away in 2005 and one of the things I retained from his possessions was that tape. I’ve included the track list from that 90 minute tape in the sidebar. My brother also had a sampler record from the Scottish indie label Fast Product. The Scars single, “Horrorshow,” and its B-side, “Adult/ery,” were on that album and I listened to them constantly.
Therefore, Scars were an artist I was very fond of in my early youth and yet I knew nothing about them, never heard them on the radio, and only had my crappy cassette recordings of their songs to hear. Actually, since Approach with Caution only had the first side of the album, Author! Author! on it, I never heard the second side until finding it on the internet about ten years ago. Certainly, Scars are, from a North American perspective, the very essence of the overlooked band.
Their tenure was brief, issuing a few singles and one album over a five year span from 1977 to 1982. The first single was the aforementioned “Horrorshow”/”Adult/ery” issued in 1979, followed by “They Came and Took Her” in 1980, and then “Love Song” also in ’80 and backed by a great cover of the Glam band Cockney Rebel’s, “Psychomodo.” Finally in 1981, with the single “All About You” and the accompanying album, Author! Author!, which reached #67 in the UK charts, did the band seemed to be heading towards a sustainable career. Yet in 1982 they broke-up when Robert King quit and were left to be relegated to the obscure corners of the music universe.
Scars were a quartet of Robert King on vocals, brothers Paul and John Mackie on guitar and bass (Paul would record and perform under the name Paul Research), and Calumn Mackay on drums. They appeared to have a strong following in Scotland and appear regularly on Scottish best artist and best album lists and reformed for a few press appearances and reunion gigs in 2010-11. Their early singles plumbed dark pop sounds that bridled the punk rawness and energy and the more nuanced, styled post-punk styles. By the time of the album, their sound was refined into a slightly more pop vibe – some dubbed them part of the New Romantics – but still worked around the spaced out, loose arrangements, jangly guitars, and heavy drum and bass foundation that marked the darker post-punk style. What I love about them are the impeccable melodies and infectious rhythms that draw you in on practically every single song – just one reason why this playlist includes pretty much every song they released. They were also influential, a case made in the documentary, The Sound of Young Scotland: The Big Gold Dream.
So discover Scars, a band that likely never would have been chart-topping stars, but undoubtedly could have become a prominent act of the ‘80s if they’d managed to stick with it. I still ensure they get a solid airing on my stereo every so often and love every second of it.
The Playlist - song \ album (year)
Horrorshow \ non-album single (1979)
Adult/ery \ B-side “Horrorshow” (1979)
They Came and Took Her \ non-album single (1980)
Love Song \ non-album single (1980)
The Psychomodo \ B-side “Love Song” (1980)
All About You \ single (1981)
Author! Author! - full album (1981)
Leave Me in Autumn
Fear of the Dark
Everywhere I Go
The Lady in the Car with Glasses On and a Gun!
Je t’Aime C’est La Mort
Your Attention Please
All About You